Hastings rodeos award volunteer, committee member of the year awards
for The Fence Post
HASTINGS, Neb. — Volunteers give unselfishly of their time and talent, and three volunteers in Hastings, Neb., were recognized recently for their contributions.
Dale Gartner, Hastings, was awarded the Oregon Trail Rodeo volunteer of the year award. Gartner has been involved with the Adams County Agricultural Society, the parent organization for both the Oregon Trail Rodeo and the Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo, since the 1950s.
He grew up on a farm near Ayr, and because his brother-in-law, John Demuth, was a fair board member, he showed 4-H animals at the Adams County Fair and was part of the crew that built the first fence for the first rodeo, held in the 1950s.
When the Ag Society was formed in the 1970s, he was one of the founding members and served as treasurer for two terms. “I did a lot of work out here,” at the fairgrounds, he remembered. “When my kids were little, we camped out here during the fair. I spent a lot of my life at the fair.”
Now that he is retired, he volunteers with the Oregon Trail Rodeo, held this year Aug. 21-23. He takes tickets and operates the elevator for those needing handicap access. “Whatever they need,” he said, “I come and do.”
He loves rodeo, but didn’t start out with that passion. “As a child, I wasn’t crazy about rodeo till I volunteered to work out here and saw those bull riders and bronc riders up close. My gosh, you can’t help but admire those people. They’re fabulous.”
Corbin Burbach, Hastings, was selected as the volunteer of the year for the Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo, the high school state championship event, held in June.
The 16-year-old has been helping with Adams County Fairgrounds events since he was a young kid, following his dad, Don Burbach, another volunteer, as he worked at the fairgrounds. He has helped in the stripping chute, taking off the bareback riggings, bronc saddles and bull ropes during the rodeo, and helps untie calves during the tie-down roping. He’s also helped in the office with jobs that need to be done.
A junior at Hastings High School, he used to be able to spend unlimited time volunteering, but now that he has a part-time job, he is careful to ask for time off during the rodeo.
His dad, Don, is a previous volunteer of the year award winner, as is his brother-in-law, Roger Pesek.
Scott Schneider was awarded two buckles during the evening’s ceremony.
The newly elected president of the Adams County Ag Society, Schneider won both the Oregon Trail Rodeo committee person of the year and the Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo committee person of the year.
Schneider, a Hastings resident, has been on the Ag Society for the past five years. He helps in a variety of capacities, all volunteer, as do the other Ag Society board members, and it can be time consuming, he said.
“It is very busy out here, and it takes a lot of family time away, too. It’s a big sacrifice that I think a lot of people don’t understand. But it’s a good thing.”
One of Schneider’s jobs at the fairgrounds is to help fellow board member Justin Wahl with the rodeo grounds, making sure the dirt is safe for horses and contestants during the rodeo. Rain can wreak havoc on arena conditions, and Schneider and Wahl spend hours working the arena with tractors. The last two years, after Schneider left work at 5 p.m., he was in the tractor until midnight for several nights in a row, helping to dry out the arena so it was satisfactory for rodeo competition. He’s always pleased when arena conditions are consistent so that barrel racers from each of the pro rodeo’s three performances can win money. Because of Schneider and Wahl’s work, the pro rodeo won third place for the Justin Boots Best Footing Award in the Prairie Circuit, the rodeos in Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
He was delighted to win the awards. “It’s an honor to win it,” he said. “I’m the guy behind the scenes, and (awards) isn’t something I go after. It’s a huge honor because there are a lot of people who have done a lot of work, and a lot of people before me who have done a lot.
“I don’t know if I have the words for it now. This is so big.”
All three honorees received a custom-made buckle for their efforts.
For more information on both events, visit the fairground’s website at http://www.AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com.
— Nicolaus is a freelance writer from Blue Hill, Neb., and a Great Plains girl at heart. She can be reached at Nicolaus@gtmc.net.